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Friday, 27 October 1905

Senator PULSFORD (New South Wales) - 1 should like, in the first- instance, to refer to a return laid on the table of the Senate at my instance in 1901, because of the use made of it by Senator Styles. The honorable senator was under the impression that I could not live without "digging" at Victoria, and that I had moved for that return for some purpose of an unfriendly nature towards Victoria.

Senator Styles - Of a friendly nature towards New South Wales, and not necessarily of a hostile nature to Victoria.

Senator PULSFORD - I interjected at the time that I had moved for the return in the interests of Queensland.

Senator Styles - I accepted that.

Senator PULSFORD - To wipe away the least slur, I should like to refer to what I said when I moved for the return on the 26th July-

I may say at once that the underlying motive of this motion for a return is a suspicion - and something more than a suspicion - in my mind ; that by a mistake made by the-committee of Statisticians some twelve or fifteen months ago the State of Queensland has been deprived of one member in the House of Representatives. But for that mistake, Queensland would now have ten members, whereas it has only nine.

I drew attention to the very, return to which Senator Styles has referred, and I said -

In the first place, I will refer to a return which was laid on the table of the Senate at my request about a fortnight ago, and which was the first official publication of the details under which the membership of the House of Representatives was arranged. The first State mentioned in the return is Victoria. According to the calculation of the committee of Statists, the number of members to winch Victoria was entitled was 22.52. . . By the fraction over the half Victoria got another member, but I may say that the census returns which have since come out show that the Victorian population was understated at that time by something like 20,000, so that this State is fully entitled to 23 members.

That was a fair, if not a handsome way in which to refer to Victoria and the general position. I was using the figures which had been brought forward in the investigation of a case which it appeared to me to be desirable to investigate, as: 'to whether Queensland had not erroneously had the number of members to which she was entitled reduced from ten to nine.

Senator Drake - Is the honorable senator now satisfied that that was a misapprehension ?

Senator PULSFORD - I am 'not quite satisfied as to the exact settlement ' at the time, but the Queensland quota in existence to-day is evidently rather smaller than it was then, and I am afraid that Queensland to-day cannot be considered to be entitled to more representation than she actually possesses. With regard to statistics generally, I may point out that the only sure way of arriving at a satisfactory estimate is to have prepared a table, which might be called a "reconciliation table " - that is to say, a table which would reconcile the returns of the Statists of the whole six States. It is not quite satisfactory that the Statists of the different States should each prepare his estimate of the population of his State, and that the six sets of figures thus obtained should be added up and the total accepted as the total population of Australia. What could be done is this : In each State the excess of births over deaths could be ascertained, and, by adding the excess in. each State .to the total population of the Commonwealth, as shown by the returns for the census year, we could determine approximately the population of the Commonwealth, subject to some additions for oversea immigration, if there has been any. Oversea immigration is generally fairly easy to find out. We can generally tell how many thousand people have arrived from abroad, and, by adding these to the natural increase, we could tell with fair accuracy what the population of Australia is at any given time.

Senator Staniforth Smith - Would the honorable senator discard .'altogether the movements of people from one State to another ?

Senator PULSFORD - I am showing that if we get the returns of increases in the way I have said, we could ascertain the correct figure for the whole of Australia, and the returns given by the Statists of the individual States, when added up, should come within measurable distance to the Commonwealth return arrived at in the way I have indicated. If they do, we can accept those estimates as accurate. If they do not add up to the Commonwealth total, prepared in the way I have indicated, there is room for doubt as to their accuracy. During the last week

I have been trying very hard to secure details of figures from the acting-Statist in New South Wales, Mr. Hall. Two days ago I received from that gentleman a big sheet of details, but I really place very little value on them, because they are too much in the nature of pure estimates, and I require figures which will be absolutely reliable. I telegraphed to Mr. Hall for further figures, 'and further information may be sent to me to-day. What I desire to find out is how the figures for the six different States add up, in the light of Commonwealth returns of increase of population shown by the excess of births over deaths. Looked at in amy light, it appears to me that no one can contend for a moment that to-day Victoria can expect to have more than twenty-two members. I notice that the last' returns published, though I admit all along that they are subject to some slight doubt on the score I have mentioned, show that Victoria is entitled to twenty-one members, with 49,535 of population over - the full number required to give one member being 55,000. According to these figures, Victoria is within about 6,000 of the number which would fully entitle her to twenty-two members. There cannot, therefore, be the shadow of a possibility that: she is entitled to twentythree members.

Senator Styles - The figures give Victoria twenty-two members and a large remainder.

Senator PULSFORD - They give Victoria twenty-two members with a shortage of nearly 6,000.

Senator Styles - No.

Senator PULSFORD - The last figures published show that Victoria is entitled to twenty-one members, with a balance of 49)535 °f population over.

Senator Styles - What is the half quota? That will give twenty-two members.

Senator PULSFORD - I am telling the honorable senator that the figures are over 5,000 short of the full quota to give twentytwo members.

Senator Styles - That is not what the honorable senator's remarks conveyed to me.

Senator PULSFORD - Then the honorable senator must have misunderstood me. What I say is that, allowing a very large margin for possible errors, it is not possible to contend that Victoria is entitled to twenty-three members. I dare not assert as an absolute fact that to-day New South Wales is entitled to twenty-seven members, but that her population has exceeded the quota twenty-six times has from the first been evident. That it to-day sufficiently exceeds the half quota beyond the population required for twenty-six members, which would entitle the State to an additional member, is not absolutely certain. I do not suppose that any representative of New South Wales desires that another member should be given to that State if she is not absolutely entitled to the additional representation. This is one reason why I am so anxious that we should have figures presented to us to reconcile the statistics of the Statists of the different States. When these figures are supplied, I shall be very glad if they show that New South Wales is entitled to an extra member. Naturally, we may look for considerable changes to take place from time to time throughout Australia. I have here a book of the last American census, from which it is shown that in America statements are published from time to time showing the relative rank in population, of the different States. These returns are very interesting. As honorable senators are aware, there are some fifty States in the American Union, and some of the States which many years ago ranked as thirtieth or fortieth in point of population now rank much higher. In the book I have before me some comparisons are given between the census returns of 1900 and 1890. I find from these figures that, for instance; Alabama receded in rank from seventeenth to eighteenth; Arizona from forty-eighth to forty-ninth; Arkansas from twenty-fourth to twenty-fifth; whilst California rose in rank from twenty-second to twenty-first. Delaware in 1890 ranked as forty-second, and in 1900 that State had receded to forty-sixth - a very material fall. We may naturally look from time to time for these changes in the different States of Australia. The time will come when Western Australia will no longer require to rely upon a sub-section of the Constitution to give her five representatives, but will be able to secure that number by reason of a full quota of population. I believe that to-day she is entitled to a little over four and a half members, which would be reckoned ais five, and no doubt the time will arrive when her population will increase considerably, I suppose, at the expense of New South! Wales, and perhaps Victoria. The latter got most rapidly the largest population per square mile, therefore it is natural that as the population of other States increases per square mile, their representation will also increase, and that while Victoria's population may still continue to increase her share of the aggregate of the Commonwealth population and representation may decrease.

Senator Keating - Western Australia is entitled to four,_ with a remainder over of 15,470, and the quota is 54,000.

Senator PULSFORD - The figures at which the Minister is looking may be late and accurate; but not long since, I was looking at figures which indicated what I have said. The corresponding section in the Constitution of the United States pro- vides that representation and direct taxation shall be apportioned in the States according to population. That is a factor which should be remembered here. The right of the States to have the representation and taxation equally distributed is beyond question, and it is the duty of Parliament, so far as it is possible, to see that those points are carried out. I think it is very necessary to insert in this Bill some amendments which will secure a greater certainty of the earlier carrying out of its requirements. I noticed that, when moving the second reading of the Bill in the other House. Mr. Groom stated that if it became law in. September, the first enumeration would be made in October. Time is passing, and it is clear that the Bill cannot become law, at any rate, before November. I wish the Government to make it quite clear that there will be due time to take the enumeration, and to fix the quota for the next general election. I am afraid that if the matter be left to the play of circumstances we may arrive near the middle of next year, and find that we have to prepare for the general election without the new arrangements which the Bill is supposed to bring into force. I am anxious not only to see the Bill passed, but to see amendments inserted which will compel the carrying out of its arrangements.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

In Committee:

Clauses 1 and 2 agreed' to.

Clause 3 -

(2)   The Chief Electoral Officer shall appoint other enumeration days as follows :

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